The first thing you notice when you arrive at Eau-de-Vie Bar is a warm welcome from behind the bar. This is your reward for successfully navigating your way from Darlinghurst Road, down towards the back of the Kirketon Hotel to this inner city bar with no signage at the front.
As your eyes adjust to the darkness and the vintage décor, you hone in on the well-stocked bar. Serge Gainsbourg’s duet with Brigitte Bardot streams from the speakers after a jazzy tune.
Inside the chic dimly-lit bar with a long communal table with a water fountain, dark wood banquettes and the odd pieces of objets d’art, the ambience is one for intimate conversations. We spot a dark corner by the end of the bar and settle down on a comfortable lounge.
Eau-de-Vie’s leather bound cocktail list is extensive with an option to upgrade cocktails with finer spirits. There are shared cocktails for 4 people, such as Lady’s Leg Cosmopolitan or a duo Pour Homme Pour Femme, a his and hers concoction as well as Champagne and a wine list from Australia, New Zealand, France and Italy.
Little Creatures Single Batch Oatmeal Stout (L) and Yuzu Mule (R)
The men start with a Little Creatures Single Batch Oatmeal Stout, a boutique beer from Freemantle in Australia. Very dark brown colour in colour yet easy to drink with a little earthy hop character.
Mr G orders the Yuzu Mule ($18.50), Eau-de-Vie’s signature cocktail with Smirnoff Black Vodka, yuzu curd (Japanese citrus fruit), lime and home-made ginger beer. We all take little sips from the copper cup in which it is served and wish we had ordered the same. This is one fine cocktail that compels you to order another.
Citrus Quartet and Amour de la Vigne
The women opt for something a little different. The aptly-named Citrus Quartet ($20) is a citrus assault to the palate with an alcohol kick to match. Made with Ketel One Citroen, Limoncello, Yellow Chartreuse and lemon bitters, it’s strong and a good palate cleanser but proved to be a little too powerful for my friend.
Amour de la Vigne ($19) is an elegant cocktail in comparison, made with Ciroc Vodka mixed with Lillet Blanc, Apricot Brandy, muddled grapes and served in a coupette with a slice of lemon.
The bar quickly fills up on a Wednesday night yet noise levels are bearable and conversations are not strained over the music. Barry Chalmers, Eau-de-Vie’s general manager steps out from behind the bar and asks us how we’re enjoying our drinks. Charming Scottish accent aside, we strike a lively conversation about my drink preferences and I end up ordering a cocktail off the menu which Barry mixes while I watch at the bar.
The making of Gin Refashioned
Gin Refashioned, is made with Tanqueray Gin, passionfruit liqueur and a dash of orange bitters and comes served in a tumbler around a hand chiselled square block of ice. Watching the workings behind the bar is part of the fun at Eau-de-Vie. I like the way the block of ice fits snuggly into the tumbler before the liquid is poured. The cocktail is exquisite and drinking it reminds me of the Minus 5 Ice Bar where the glasses were made out of chiselled ice.
Eau-de-Vie has a select food menu with tasting plates ranging from $15-$25 that are designed to be shared. The Mezze Plate ($24) comes with a selection of chorizo sausage, thin shavings of prosciutto, , melon balls, caramelised onions, pesto dip, beetroot dip, tomato and bocconcini and toasted sour dough bread slices.
The Salmon Trilogy ($22.50) consists of salmon roe on toasted brioche, sashimi-style salmon pieces and slightly seared salmon, dressed in soy sauce and sesame that is lovely and pink in the middle.
Well stocked bar
Eau-de-Vie is an intimate bar with a romantic old world ambience. You can easily imagine men in suits, hats and cigars occupying dark corners. The background jazz tunes contributes to the vibe without straining to converse. Whether you go there with a small group of friends, with someone you want to impress or on a date night, the standout cocktails and the stellar service are guaranteed to bring you back.
Eau de Vie Bar is featured in Sydney’s Best Winter Bars.
Edit – Don’t miss our second review of Eau-de-Vie Bar: St Patrick’s Day Cocktails at Eau-de-Vie Bar, Darlinghurst
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